Help Wanted…

with my new marathon training plan!

On July 31st 2011 I will run the San Francisco Marathon and I am beyond thrilled. I know that this race won’t be a PR race, but rather I am looking forward to getting back to what I love about running and enjoying the amazing scenery along the way. I’ve always toyed around with Hal Higdon‘s marathon training programs, many times tweaking it with the advice of friends and fellow marathoners. This time, I think I’ll take a step away from my good friend Hal and put together my own plan. But first, I need your help!

Seeing as how I picked up running after graduating college and I’ve never run with a team, I don’t have the best knowledge when it comes to different training strategies. Ok, compared to most of you, I really don’t know ANYTHING, so I am all ears! I’ve also been prone to injury over the past few years, so I’m looking forward to having a injury free training cycle and a successful race on July 31st.

Plan Considerations:

  1. Hill Work – This is an absolute must, I am going to work in hills to my long runs as well as attempt hill repeats (gulp)
  2. Spacing out Runs – When I asked Aron for advice on a training plan for SF she pointed out that I should consider avoiding back to back days to reduce the wear and tear on my body and likelihood of injury.
  3. Yoga – I’m terrible with stretching, so incorporating this into my weekly routine has always helped me, so I’m going to stick with it
  4. Speed Work – I’m forcing myself to do one speed workout a week, I truly feel that this will be a huge differentiator
  5. Cross Training – Prior to signing up for the SF Marathon I vowed to get back to my swimming roots and try a few sprint triathlons, so I signed up for two this summer. Marathon training will be my primary focus, but I think cross training could be a great chance to mix it up and help reduce burn out

So, here it is! I plan on playing around with this a bit before I make a “final” plan (I say that loosely, as training plans are never set in stone!) I’m definitely feeling a little nervous about this, so please let me know any tips or ideas that you have for me 🙂

So, what do you think? What are your marathon training tips for me?


  1. says

    My random thoughts, but first: I’ve only ever run one marathon. And it was part of an Ironman. And I blew up and walked a ton of it.

    Hill work is good, but don’t do short hill sprint repeats for marathon training. Incorporate hill repeats at just faster than marathon pace into some of your long runs. It is a strength vs endurance thing.

    Spacing out workouts is key, but so is frequency. That would be my biggest edit to your plan. Maybe consider upping the number or runs that you do. Maybe just an easy 3 miles added to both your rest and yoga days. Don’t bucket it all into just 3 mid-to-long runs per week. Run more frequently, but learn to be okay with some shorter distance runs on your easy days. Rest day’s shouldn’t be “no workout” days. Stretch, eat well. sleep well. Get your HR up a little, but make sure you feel stronger the day after.

    For speed work, I wouldn’t do a ton of really fast stuff on the track. Instead, go for a middle-distance run with some 400-800 meter pickups mixed throughout. Choose a block or two. Or even a light pole off in the distance and run to it. I don’t think you’d need speed work any faster than your 10k pace.

    Yoga is good for stretching, but make sure you incorporate run-specific stretches for any problem areas you know you have or feel starting to bother you. Yoga helps, but you need specific attention to running muscles. You can do yoga every monday, but I’d make it a plan to do 5-10 minutes of stretching every day. No matter what. 7 days a week. When you are watching TV or something, just hop on the floor and do some stretches until you notice something tight, then try to loosen up whatever that is for a few minutes before hopping back up on the couch.

  2. says

    So did this cut back your running to only 3 days? I think what you sent me first was 4 days? If you can handle it I definitely think 4 days is more appropriate, but I think it was just that you had 3 back to back to back… maybe do run Mon, Tues, Thurs, Saturday or something like that? Just adding in a slow easy run another day a week could be good (Mon with yoga?). What you have works well too, it will get you prepared to enjoy SFM and keep you injury free! I am SO excited for you!!! Email me anytime with questions 🙂

      • says

        My two cents:
        If you want to get that much miles in, I would add a 4th day. Run 3-5 on Monday and take off some of that mileage on Thursday. Two days before a long run to be running 10-12 miles seems excessive to me, but thats me!!

        I highly believe in speed workouts. I’m 100% thats what got me to running 8:20s. Monday, easy short run before yoga, Tuesday- speed of 3-4 miles with warmup and cooldown so that could go up to 7 miles during peak week, then Thursday 5-8 miles, and Saturday long!

        What do you think?

  3. says

    Glad you consulted Aron, she’s a pro! If possible, I’d go for 4-5 days of running with space like Aron mentioned. If you schedule 5 and have to miss one, then you’re still in the 4 days 🙂

  4. @itsheatherdavis says

    I’m reading The Four Hour Body by @tferriss and I think you’ll find some amazing tips for training in there. I’d suggest buying the Kindle version if you have one because the book is heavy to lug around. I’m sure you’ll do great! Best wishes :).

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